SAN FRANCISCO -- Nancy Pelosi can now add construction worker to her list of accomplishments.
The house minority leader joined Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal, Barry Zito and other community leaders to break ground on the new St. Anthony's dining room Thursday. The Tenderloin facility will be built through a partnership between St. Anthony Foundation and Mercy Housing California.
The new, ten-story facility will include a free dining room, the city's largest free clothing program, a social work center and 90 units of affordable housing for seniors. To date, St. Anthony's has raised over 90 percent of the funding necessary to complete the project. However, the organization still must raise an additional $2.5 million.
The opening ceremonies featured performances by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel and Beach Blanket Babylon. Before a heel-clad Pelosi descended down a pile of dirt into the construction site, she addressed a crowd of volunteers, religious dignitaries and Tenderloin residents.
"It's not just about food and housing," Pelosi said. "It's about dignity, stability and respect."
Mayor Lee echoed Pelosi's sentiments, and praised St. Anthony's for providing "more than a meal" to its residents.
St. Anthony's opened its doors October 4, 1950, in a former auto repair shop. The original dining room provided an estimated 38 million meals to its residents since opening.
Fifty-two-year-old Gregory Williams has relied on Saint Anthony's services since he was 12 years old.
"This will bring help to the Tenderloin," Williams told The Huffington Post. "This is a positive day in San Francisco."